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How to Wash a Bathing Suit

Long gone are the summer days when your mom soaked your public pool swimsuit in the bathroom sink. If you’ve elevated your swimsuit style to a chic, sophisticated option, it’s time to level up your suit washing routine, too. But what’s the right way to wash a bathing suit?

Whether you’re slipping into a slinky white bathing suitto sunbathe or cresting waves in a sleek one-piece, keeping your beach vacation essentials in tip-top shape is a must. 

Knowing how a swimsuit should be washed and how should a bathing suit fit can help you  Emerge from every dip with a flattering fit and a confident glow. Treat your swimsuit to the care you and your wet suit both deserve, and that boardwalk might just become your runway. 

Step 1: Soak Your Suit and Prepare to Wash

Mom wasn’t wrong—soaking actually is a helpful first step toward achieving a pristine suit. However, it’s just one of several steps you can take when washing a bathing suit.

Before you start the cleaning process, begin with these three musts:   

  1. Soak your suit – Let your wet suit soak in cool, clean water for around 30 minutes. This process can help to gently extract body oils and leftover chlorine or sunscreen—chemical culprits that can wear out the fabric of your suit over time.1 A pre-soak also ensures your swimsuit can enter the cleaning process free of residue.
  2. Choose your cleaning method – If you have the capacity to wash by hand, your suit will thank you for such considerate care. Likewise, tossing your swimsuit into the washing machine will free up your hands for other enjoyable tasks—like chopping pineapple ahead of that poolside barbecue. 
  3. Stock up on soap – To preserve your swimsuit’s material, we recommend opting for a gentle detergent that skips the dyes, bleach, and any extra chemicals like fabric softener. Or, you can sidestep detergent altogether and use a capful of white vinegar for an all-natural cleaner with proven antibacterial and deodorizing impact.1 

Now that you’ve pre-soaked your suit and gathered your supplies, it’s time to give your swimsuit a major glow-up. 

Step 2: Wash Your Suit

From swimming laps in an indoor pool to diving into some salty ocean spray, we all have our preferences for how we spend time in our suits. Luckily, you have options when it comes to washing your suit, too. 

You can achieve a fresh suit by hand-washing or by tossing it into the washing machine. Before you begin, however, make sure to check your suit’s label for any unique washing requirements. If you’re not sure what method to use, don’t worry—we’ll cover the details below so that you can spend even more time in that poolside lounge chair.

Vacay in Style! Find your seaside staple now!

Washing Your Suit By Hand

If your suit features delicate beading, eye-catching bedazzlements, or straps that easily tangle together, we recommend hand-washing your swimsuit. This is also a superb wash method for those who simply prefer a more hands-on approach. Offer your bathing suit the special treatment and it’ll shimmer through many golden hours.  

Follow these steps to wash your suit by hand:

  1. Fill up your sink, tub, or a large bowl with lukewarm water. Hot water can shrink the fabric, and cold water works best just for that initial soak.1 Tepid or room-temperature water is the perfect way to give your suit a spa-worthy treatment. 
  2. Add your cleaning agent. If you’re working with detergent, just a teaspoon will suffice. If you’re trying the vinegar method, a splash or capful should be plenty.
  3. Add your suit to the water and swish it around until it’s fully saturated.
  4. Using your thumbs, work out any visible discoloration and dirt, gently massaging the material under the water’s surface. 
  5. For stains that are sticklers, try repurposing an old but soft toothbrush. Add a pea-sized amount of detergent to the brush and softly scrub in circles.
  6. Rinse your suit under cool, clean water to remove any residue of soap or vinegar.
  7. Instead of wringing it out, roll your swimsuit up and apply light pressure to remove excess water. This gentle motion can prevent stretching and maintain your suit’s shape. 
  8. Finally, lay your suit out flat to dry.

Washing Your Suit in the Machine

Every beach day is a chance to serve major looks. Make more time to perfect your beachy waves as your suit tumbles clean, free of supervision.  

The machine-washing method is ideal for any suit that doesn’t feature too many fine details, or that keeps the straps on the minimal side.

Follow these steps to wash your suit in the washing machine:

  1. Check the label to clarify that your suit is machine-washable.
  2. Select the gentlest cycle available on your machine. Vigorous agitation could stretch out your favorite bikini bottoms, so the “delicates” setting is your best friend here. 
  3. Fill the washing machine basin with cold water, which can cleanse without shrinking or warping your suit. 
  4. Add your cleansing agent. A capful of vinegar or a single load’s serving of detergent will do the trick for one bathing suit. 
  5. Place your swimsuit in a mesh laundry bag designed to keep fragile and intricate undergarments from snagging or twisting. Throw your protected suit into the washer along with some towels for extra padding. 
  6. Run the cycle. After your washer signals completion, carefully roll up your damp swimsuit and press it to expel any lingering water. 
  7. Spread your suit on a flat surface and air dry. 

Give your minimalist swimwear at least two undisturbed hours to lay flat before moving it. You’ll have a dry, pristine suit to flaunt in no time.  

Tips to Keep Your Suit Looking Sultry

Your swimsuit boasts more than just its flirtatious factor. It also supports and protects your body as you take the plunge. Maintain your suit’s integrity, as well as its attractiveness, by following some additional guidelines when it’s time to wash:2

  • Shield your swimsuit from the sun as it dries. This preserves its color and keeps even your most beloved suit looking brand new.  
  • Promptly take your swimsuit out of the water when you’re done hand washing, or when the cycle ends if you’re machine washing. This can help to keep the material tight and strong.  
  • Bring a towel whenever you wear your swimsuit out, even if you plan to stay dry. You can save your suit from snags and streaks by putting down a towel before lounging atop any sandy surfaces, beach chairs, or pool decks.
  • Be aware of the products you put on your body and their potential to rub off on your suit. Choose a non-greasy sunscreen that’s formulated to not leave stains. If you apply other products like tinted concealer or shimmery body oil, leave a little space around the edges of your suit.
  • Keep in mind that heat can weaken the elasticity of your suit. If you plan to seek a long, hot soak in a jacuzzi, opt for board shorts or dedicate a well-loved, older suit for this purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Curious about other factors that can help keep your suit sparkling? Dig your toes into the sand and crush that delicious drink as you peruse our common swimsuit care questions. We can tell you’re a mermaid at heart.  

Can I hang my suit up to dry? In general, we don’t recommend it. When you dry your suit flat, you take pressure off the straps and save your suit from stretched-out spots. On top of straining thin fabric, hanging up your suit to dry can cause water to collect at the bottom. Do your sweet suit a favor and spare it from any potential sogginess.

Can I put my suit in the dryer? – Remember what we said about a hot tub breaking down your suit’s stretchiness? The same goes for the time spent flopping around the dryer. Avoid unexpected shrinkage or a loose fit, and always dry your suit flat.

Do I have to wash my suit every time I swim? – As much as we wish, a dip in the pool or ocean doesn’t count towards giving that suit a wash. Unlike detergent, plain water doesn’t cleanse dead skin cells, sunscreen buildup, or bacteria. Keep your suit glowing and hygienic by washing it after every use.

Can I wash multiple suits at once? – If your ocean outings involve multiple suits—one for the early evening, one for the afterparty—we salute you as a true beach icon. If your mesh bag or sink can hold both comfortably, feel free to wash them together. Just stick to similar colors and double-check each suit’s washing requirements before beginning.  

With regular washing and care, a quality swimsuit can last you years. In other words, take good care of that little black bikini and you’ll likely be able to wear it again next season. It’s timeless, after all. 

How do I store my swimsuit between uses? – Even your trusty one-piece needs a break sometimes. When you’re not wearing it, store your swimsuit flat in an open-lid container. This allows it to stay wrinkle-free and permits any remaining moisture to evaporate. Post-vacation or at summer’s end, fold your swimsuit in a drawer where it can stay clean and dry until you’re ready to dive back in. 

Find Your Dream Suit with Gooseberry

Now that you know how to wash a bathing suit, you’re ready to give a resounding “yes” to every aquatic adventure that comes your way. 

Whether you’re living the high life at a resort or ambling down a lazy river, enjoy your time in the water with a suit that has your back. 

Effortlessly combine seaside appeal and comfort with Gooseberry’s exquisite collection. Our seaside collection features luxurious materials and bodacious designs that will set your swimwear apart. Diverse bikini bottom styles or bikini top styles that  fit your needs without sacrificing charisma—from plunging one-pieces to flirty corset-tied bikinis, every piece drips with personality. 

Whatever suit you choose, you’re bound to make some waves with Gooseberry. Complete your sexy intimate collections with loungewear lingerie, sexy bras, sleepwear and more from Gooseberry Intimates.


  1. Real Simple. How To Wash Swimsuits So They Look Good All Summer.
  2. Tide Cleaners. Dos and Don'ts of Swimwear Care.

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